Israeli vs Iranian mass protests: facing the streets
    Different approaches, contrasting results

    ANALYTICS  28 March 2023 - 12:59

    Murad Abiyev

    Iranian mullahs' regime is employing cartoonish rhetoric as an emotional fuel for its foreign policy: "America is the Big Satan", "Israel is the Small Satan", "Azerbaijan is an accomplice of the Small Satan"... The authorities of the country consider the population of South Azerbaijan as the primary addressee of the last thesis: the word "Satan" is meant to force tens of millions of Azerbaijanis to condemn the Republic of Azerbaijan and not to feel solidarity with it, but to support the aggressive policy of Tehran towards the country.

    It is amazing how a seemingly educated society accepts such primitive concepts. Or does it not? Recent events in Iran, such as the protests that have been going on for months, show that Iranian society is far from unconditionally accepting the outdated medieval tools of a theocratic regime. Suppose we abstract away from the hysterical labels of Iranian theocracy and focus on the domestic politics of both Iran and its antagonist Israel. In that case, the big question is which country uses diabolical methods of governance. Moreover, it is easy to do this today - both countries are simultaneously shaken by mass protests.

    The permissiveness of the Iranian vice police resulted in the murder of the girl Mahsa Amini in September last year. Iranian youths have taken to the streets. From the beginning of the riots, the government chose the most repressive way of dealing with the problem: protesters were shot at. Only two months later, faced with unprecedented resistance, the government dissolved, however, only in words, the edifying patrol (the vice police). However, this did not lead to social reconciliation as protest activists were soon sentenced to death. To date, the number of victims of repression (those killed during the crackdown) is about five hundred, if not more, including 47 children. One hundred people have been sentenced to death and some of the sentences have already been carried out. A fair question arises - where are the principles of Islamic justice here? Is it Islamic ethics to ignore the social demands of the masses? What the Iranian regime is doing to its people is more likely to be described in terms of "zulm" - that is, oppression, persecution, and injustice.

    Despite the authorities' brutal crackdown on the protests, the demonstrations have continued for seven months. New unrest triggers new rounds of repression. These, in turn, give rise to more organised forms of struggle. By the way, the fight is just beginning in Southern Azerbaijan... Iran is on the verge of a big explosion.

    And what is the situation in Israel? The Netanyahu government, as you know, announced two months ago the intention of judicial reform, which among other innovations, actually made the Supreme Court under the control of the legislative and executive branches. The Israeli public, seeing this initiative as a threat to the democratic foundations of the state, took to the streets to protest. Even many in the ruling coalition find the reform unacceptable, revealing a clear split within their ranks. Against this backdrop, Netanyahu fired defence minister Gallant, triggering a new explosion of popular unrest. On March 27, Netanyahu announced at a government meeting that the reform of the judiciary would be suspended. Society and the government have reached an agreement. Society has won. Chaos is over. The harshest method of suppressing protests in Israel has been the use of water cannons. The death toll is zero.

    So Iranian elites could learn from their arch-enemy how to carry on public dialogue. That is, listen to the voice of society. Which is something the IRI has not and does not have.

    In general, by sheltering itself behind anti-Israeli rhetoric, the Iranian regime is hiding the fact that it sees the Sunni and Turkic world as its real enemy, contrary to its declared policy of all-Islamic solidarity. Iran's policy of propping up the Assad regime in Syria and supporting aggressive Armenia is the best proof of that and in no way looks like an effort to strengthen Islamic solidarity.

    Using Israel as a bugbear of the Islamic world, on the other hand, is losing its relevance in the larger Islamic arena as well as in Iranian society. Iranian youth, with such a significant difference between the two countries in their response to protests before their eyes, on the contrary, cease to be receptive to such narratives. Therefore, instead of continuing to scare the South Azerbaijanis with the "Small Satan", the mullahs should urgently implement democratic reforms.

    Down with zulm!


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